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March 2012

Welcome to the March 2012 issue of the Nemetschek Scia eNews. We present you the following topics:



Are computers better for optimizing structures than design engineers?


The construction industry is cost driven, yet at the same time it searches for better quality, more esthetics and higher functionality. Combining these apparently contradictory goals is well-known in the world of economics. The discipline Operations Research deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help making better decisions. Operations Research is often concerned with determining the maximum (of profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (of loss, risk, or cost) of some real-world objectives. Originating in military efforts before World War II, its techniques have grown to concern problems in a variety of industries.

So did Scia when starting a research project together with the University of Prague in 2006. From this research project a new algorithm could be developed which is now available in Scia Engineer, as a module named "Optimizer". A Scia Engineer user specifies "what to optimize" (e.g. weight, shape, ...) and chooses the strategy (with constraints). The Optimizer iterates automatically towards the optimum and stores all steps in a table with the best solution highlighted.

Several algorithms from Operations Research were implemented, to name a few: gradient method, Nelder-Mead heuristic method, differential evolution method and others.

And yes, it works. Practical design examples have been worked out (e.g. choice of best post-tensioned cable tendons in a bridge) with amazing cost reductions (> 15%) compared with the designer's proposal.

For those interested in more details, please download our white paper or contact Scia for a technical discussion.


Optimization Workflow



User Contest 2011 - Winner Special Jury BIM Prize:
Inginerie Structurala srl - Orchidea Tower - Bucharest, Romania


Inginerie Structurala srlAbout Inginerie Structurala srl
Inginerie Structurala is a young company specializing in the computer assisted design of complex structures in the structural engineering and industrial field. The main activity of our company is design, consultations and construction expertise. It was founded in 2002 in Bucharest. Through professionalism and seriousness, Inginerie Structurala has gradually become a well-known company on the market. The team consists of 15 experienced engineers who are using software for design (drafting) and for computing the structures against seismic forces, which are predominant in our country.

About the project
The project comprises two adjoining office buildings in the shape of a butterfly. The site is located on the left side of the Dambovita River where three underground aquifers had to be dealt with. The composite structure will be made out of steel and reinforced concrete. As Romania is lying in a seismic zone, the most important and decisive step was the check of the structure against earthquake. The basements were analyzed together with the superstructure. In this way the entire behaviour of the building was taken into consideration. The soil-structure interaction was taken into account by modelling the soil as a Winkler elastic support area.

Inginerie Structurala srl - Orchidea Tower - Bucharest, Romania
Inginerie Structurala srl - Orchidea Tower - Bucharest, Romania
Inginerie Structurala srl - Orchidea Tower - Bucharest, Romania
Inginerie Structurala srl - Orchidea Tower - Bucharest, Romania

Some technical details:
 • Gross built area: 77,000 m²
 • Total height above the ground: 82.80 m
 • Ground floor + 19 floors + 1 technical floor
 • Three underground basements
 • Typical story height: 3.70 m
 • Technical floor height: 4.00 m
 • All three basements have a height of 3.00 m

Quote of the Jury: "The spatial tall Orchidea tower structure (butterfly plan) was a nice demonstration of integrated design and dynamic earthquake computation of a composite steel and reinforced concrete structure. Good use of 3D modelling and 3D structural analysis software. The entire behaviour of the structure, also soil-structure interaction, could be taken into account."

► Play YouTube Movie
► Download pdf: "Inginerie Structurala srl - Orchidea Tower - Bucharest, Romania"

Tips & Tricks Scia Engineer: Interval for results

  In Scia Engineer 2011 a new option has been added for the representation of results on 1D members. The user is now able to select a certain range of results. The property 'Extreme' has been extended with a new item 'Interval' in the Properties menu of several result types: Internal forces, Deformations, Stresses, Unity checks. The user can then define an upper and lower limit for the results interval that should be displayed graphically on the screen as well as in the print preview. See screenshot 1.

Scia Engineer: Interval for results
Scia Engineer: Interval for results
Scia Engineer: Interval for results
Scia Engineer: Interval for results

An example for the Steel code check is shown in screenshot 2, where the interval is chosen between the unity check value 1 and 10.

An analogous option for results on 2D members has been available for a long time. For the result types Internal forces, Deformations, Stresses, the item 'Drawing setup 2D' is available in the Properties menu. Click on the [...] button to open the setup window. Via [Minimum and maximum settings] the user can select an interval to be displayed on the screen, with or without the extreme zones in a uniform colour. Don't forget to select the option 'User defined values'. See screenshot 3.

A second option is to choose 'User-adjustable palette values'. Via [Advanced settings] the user can then modify the number of isobands and their limit values, as well as their colours. Some predefined palette colours are also available. See screenshot 4.



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